Finding Inspiration in Japanese Art
Why Use Lace to Make Art?
As an artist, I have chosen Bobbin Lace as my medium because I want to explore and exploit the unique attributes of lace as a medium and the unique design possibilities presented by fiber when made into lace. And to take lace-making beyond the mere preservation of historical techniques and traditions. For me there needs to be a compelling reason to make lace art otherwise I might as well simply paint or draw.
It is the difference between copying Old Master paintings in a museum to preserve the techniques of the past and using that knowledge to create something entirely new and contemporary to expand the possibilities of those techniques. Fiber art, specifically tapestry and embroidery, is now considered a lesser art in comparison to painting and sculpture. Until the 19th century, tapestry was the most prestigious medium of all due to the time and skill – and therefore the expense – required to produce it.
Lace is dimensional and even sculptural. It can be layered, folded and draped to create areas of light and shadow that play off the textures of the fibers. Each of these effects is dramatically different depending on whether the fiber is silk, rayon, linen, cotton, metallic thread or actual wire, bare or with a patina.
Lace making needs to find new purposes to survive. It was historically used on clothing and accessories, but it is not commercially viable for that. We need contemporary uses for lace that can engage the imagination of new lace makers rather than limiting them to the replication of old patterns and rigid expectations. Lace making skills need to be used to express original ideas. One shouldn’t need advanced skills to make contemporary lace nor should one have to abandon them for contemporary lace. The ideal is to develop the various skills that will aid the freedom of expression. Freedom lies in originality, as true in lace making as in painting, cooking, music or sculpture.
I am interested in creating “Fine Art in Lace”, a marriage of design and technique where the techniques and fiber choices are made in the service of the design. Art that can only be made with lace. My work is design driven. Only when I am satisfied with the idea do I begin to consider how I will execute it; what fibers and stitches are needed to create the patterns and textures rich with color that I can combine into pictures.
Over the course of time I have developed a simple and reliable foundation of stitches and techniques that work for me, as well as a feel for how different fibers and weights perform. To these I add whatever skill I find I might need to execute a particular idea. That is a large part of the pleasure: discovering I need to learn something new for a design. Learning then has a specific point!